Shaquille O'Neal's NBA career was full of interesting moments. The Big Diesel started off strong with big performances for the Orlando Magic, even helping them reach the 1995 NBA Finals, which they eventually lost against the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets.
After his stint with the Magic became a bad situation, Shaq decided to find a new home in the league. He had different options back in the day, but the Los Angeles Lakers appeared to be the best option for him after the Magic. It's well known that his relationship with the Floridians wasn't the best, which prompted him to leave the squad.
Even before making it to Los Angeles, Shaq learned that things would be different in Southern California, and it all started when Jerry West broke down his contract and the type of money he would make if he joined the Purple and Gold.
Shaquille O'Neal Was Shocked After Seeing His First Lakers Contract
During an interview on The Full Send Podcast, Shaq opened up on his negotiations with the Lakers while also explaining what led him to pick the Californians over the Floridians.
"Jerry West met me at a hotel. He says, “hey, I got some good news and some bad news.” I said, ‘what’s the bad news?’ He said, ‘I can’t get you the $140 million, but I’ll get you $120 million and I have some movie deals signed up for you that come up to about $180 million. And I said, ‘sh*t, let me see the contract.’ He showed me the contract and I’ve never seen so many zeros in my life. My first contract was $40 million, and when I saw the $120 for seven years, I was like, ‘man…’"
That was certainly a shocking moment for Shaq, who learned how things worked in LA very fast. He would join a Lakers squad that struggled to win at the beginning, but once O'Neal and Kobe Bryant reached a certain point, they were unstoppable together. Shaq would become a 3x NBA champion in LA, 3x Finals MVP, 1x regular season MVP, the most dominant player in NBA history, and a Lakers legend. The money was good, and the results started coming, so there's no doubt Shaq made the right decision.